Oh hey, diagnosis day.

April 27, 2021.

12 months. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. ago.

That many months, days, hours, minutes since life drastically changed. I remember all of the questions, thoughts and concerns that occupied my mind immediately and somehow also simultaneously feeling completely numb. The deep, heavy fear that overtook every ounce of my body.

Here’s a peek into my mind a year(ish) ago. Words taken straight from my handwritten journal just seven days after finding out I had cancer.

“This is the first time I am putting pen to paper since finding out I have cancer. Still doesn’t feel real even as I write it. So much feels like a blur, yet every detail this far is forever etched within me.

{insert 11 pages worth of capturing every detail since receiving the news – where I was, conversations I’d had, care team planning – all of it, because as much as I desperately wanted to forget all of it I also never want to forget the depth and vividness of
it}

Thoughts/feelings since finding out:

  • As silly as it feels, I’m struggling most about losing my hair.
  • How will I tell everyone? …and hating every time I have to?
  • Worrying about how this will impact others.
  • How will dating go after all of this?
  • Will I ever walk down the aisle?
  • I have so many good people in life to help me battle this.
  • Will I be able to follow my dreams to travel the world?
  • I suddenly do not care about work.
  • Wanting people to treat me normal, yet getting frustrated when people act like all is well.
  • Will I get through this?
  • Will I have lasting side effects?
  • Will it come back after we treat it?
  • Will chemo make me really sick?
  • Sad I can’t go to El Salvador.
  • Sad I won’t be able to run the St. Jude ½ marathon.
  • Could I have done something different?
  • Why me?
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Little sleep
  • What will I look like bald?
  • How bad will the next year be?
  • I’ve stopped praying (dumb, I know)
  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Thankful for support but also feeling a bit smothered/needing to breathe
  • Wonder how bad the scars will be

I haven’t cried in a few days. I’m not sure if there’s no tears left to be cried or if I’m simply numb. I know now what I have to battle, and I will.

I think about all of this constantly. After days of not knowing details of what we were dealing with diagnosis wise I am left feeling drained. Joyful, thankful and grateful, yet 100% exhausted.

I am trying to remind myself just how good God is. He’s bigger than this, and because of that I pray to not be fearful as I step into the battle ahead. Even if, He’s still good!”

12 months. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. I realize how naïve some of those thoughts seem (laughable actually) and yet how incredibly spot on they were with what would continue to occupy my thoughts and fuel my fear. They were real thoughts. Honest thoughts. Valid thoughts.  

There are so many things I battle in the here and now that I didn’t know to have on my radar a year ago – how awful growing hair back actually is (even though you’ll often hear me say aloud “after being bald I’m just thankful for any hair.” I am, but also it sucks), learning how to love the new me I see when I look in the mirror, having to process a trauma after living in survival mode for a year, the spiral you experience when you learn of another woman you know being diagnosed, the skip of your heartbeat when you learn someone you know has lost her life to breast cancer, survivor’s guilt, accepting a doctor can say “no evidence of cancer” but can’t 100% guarantee you’re fully cancer free, anxiety around ending active treatment…to name a few.

It’s a blessing to be standing on this side of my journey for so many reasons, truly.

Yet I am acutely aware of this being far from over. The weight of it all will simply look different in the year(s) to come. Contrary to what many seem to think, impacts of cancer do not end when active treatment does…even if I so desperately want them to. It’s not that easy.

Remember always: just because someone carries it well does not mean it isn’t heavy.

But today I am simply taking it all in. Letting the heavy be heavy. Letting the joy be present. Letting the tears fall. Letting myself feel all the feels. Holding close my gratitude for all that has been this past year.

Deep down I genuinely hope the time will come when April 27th comes and goes on the calendar without me remembering the significance of this date. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Like so much of this journey I simply cannot predict what will fade away fully vs. what will simply feel a little less heavy down the road.  

12 months. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. It was hard. It was good. It was hell. It was beauty. It was everything in between.

…but here I am. Still fighting. I am ok (even as I navigate the occasional wrecking balls inside my brain). The weight and beauty of that is not lost on me. I hope it will never be lost on me.

Here’s to not letting cancer define me, though praying God will allow me to carry forward the most beautiful silver linings of this diagnosis. May I some day know the purpose in all of this, and if not I hope to find peace in understanding the why may not be mine to know.

Thanks for journeying with me. No way I could have done this alone. Absolutely no way.  

Oh, and friendly reminder to check your breasts. Early detection saves lives!

2 thoughts on “Oh hey, diagnosis day.

  1. Your beauty is on the inside, Yet you are still physically striking. The story of your diagnosis to treatment story is powerful. No matter what you choose to do in your life work, you will carry this story with you. Sending strength and love. Gezil

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